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The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on how increasingly interconnected the world is and how important immunization is in protecting against infectious diseases. According to the World Health Organization, immunizations are estimated to prevent two to three million deaths each year. While companies are working diligently to create a vaccine for COVID-19, there are vaccines available and in use today that provide vital protection from other contagious diseases.

Today is the last day of World Immunization Week, and the theme is “Vaccines Work for All” which reminds us that those who make, deliver, and receive vaccines collectively play a part in ensuring the health and safety of those around us. This also includes the business community where vaccine-preventable diseases are still affecting the health of the U.S. workforce today.

According to IBI’s disability benchmarking analytics, there are substantial productivity costs affecting businesses each year as a result of illnesses that could have either been preventable or have the severity reduced by vaccines. For example, as many as 14,000 employees file a short-term disability (STD) claim for the seasonal flu with each claim costing an average of $1,100 and leave time lasting an average of three weeks. That equates to $15.4 million in potentially preventable short-term disability costs each year for employers. Other diseases where vaccines could have provided protection and associated disability leave costs can be found below:

Vaccine-Preventable
Diseases
Number of
STD claims
per year
Average Length
of Short-Term
Disability per
Claim (Days)
Average STD
Costs per Claim
Annual STD
Leave Costs
Pneumonia 25,900 35 $2,200 $56,980,000
Seasonal Flu/ Influenza 14,000 21 $1,100 $15,400,000
Shingles/ Herpes Zoster 5,000 34 $2,300 $11,500,000
Cervical Cancer 1,900 81 $5,200 $9,880,000
Viral Hepatitis 800 92 $6,800 $5,440,000
Tuberculosis 500 64 $4,200 $2,100,000
Mumps 100 28 $1,500 $150,000

Even one disability claim for something preventable is too many. Businesses have an increasingly influential role in public health and should incorporate strategies around promoting vaccination and facilitating employee education and access to them. Not only do companies have a strong financial incentive to make it their business to fight against vaccine-preventable diseases, but it is a tremendous opportunity to cement the protection of health for the global community.

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